Nollywood actress, Yvonne Jegede-Fawole has lambasted Nigerian banks for exploiting Nigerians through different illegal charges on consumers’ bank accounts.
The ebony-skinned actress said this while interacting with journalists at a peaceful protest she staged last Friday. The protest march was tagged; #CloseOneMillionBankAccount, through which she highlighted different unjustifiable charges that are presently being charged by Nigerian banks. She elucidated that, “ATM withdrawals that were free now cost N65 on 3rd withdrawals, We pay N1000 for debit card issuance and renewals; we pay N105 for every online transfer; and they still charge N600 as Annual Debit Card Maintenance and now, a new Stamp Duty charge of N50 on every credit of over N1000 has just been introduced.” She said with the current development, Nigerians are better off with one or two bank accounts at most. “Opening unnecessary bank accounts gives more revenue to bankers; bankers charge us N50 for ATM maintenance which is illegal, the ATM cards are with us not with them; so why the N50 compulsory payment? “We should be bold enough to stand for our rights, SMS should be free to all, we should say ‘No to unnecessary bank charges, it is by choice and not by force, this protest is to let users know their rights and use one bank account with Nigeria banks. We should not fold our arms and let bankers make money out of us, what then are the benefits of banking with our banks, she asked? The charges should be optional, we all have rights to our accounts, Nigerians are expected to shun this exorbitant transaction charges,’’ she added. The protest march which was organized by Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON) kicked off at Allen Roundabout, Ikeja and from there, it was taken to some of the major areas of Ikeja, including Adeniyi Jones, Allen Avenue, Toyin Street and Wemabod Estate. The President and founder of CAFON, Ms. Sola Salako, also stressed that banks are robbing Nigerians intellectually and the best option for Nigerians is to close all unnecessary bank accounts and leave only vital ones. Salako added that the protest is aimed at pressuring Nigerian banks to review their charges downwards. CAFON is also calling for a review of bank forms and contracts to protect consumers and for consumer complaints to be resolved promptly and satisfactorily. According to the consumer activist, “Other demands are that banks must clear fees with consumers before debiting their accounts and that CBN must review the new Stamp Duty Charge, Account Maintenance Charge and Debit Card Maintenance Fees.’’ The Nollywood actress, Yvonne Jegede, expressed same sentiment with Salako that under the current CBN management, abolished fees are being reintroduced. A lawyer, Damilola Akerele, said banks are so harsh and inconsiderate in their charges, adding that “the charges are not fair; it is too much. GTbank especially charge me too much just for rendering me service, they should not rob us totally. Though the system our banks are using on us is bad and corrupt, I welcome this rally, it is good. “We hope CBN listens to us and tell commercial banks to reduce these charges, if it can’t be totally eradicated, it should be reduced, the charges are unrealistic and outrageous.” A passerby, Ayo Atiba, also expressed same sentiment: ‘We are consuming a product and we have to be charged for consuming this product, but this has to be on a level that is fair and gives everybody the leverage to transact business, the charges are exorbitant,” he said.